Years of research have touted the positive health benefits that result from taking birth control pills. Aside from protecting against unwanted pregnancy, oral contraceptives often contribute to fewer acne breakouts, as well as lighter and less painful periods for women. Now, a recent study released by a group at Oxford suggests birth control may also provide women with long-term protection against endometrial cancer.
Just last week, scientists at Oxford’s Collaborative Group on Epidemiological Studies on Endometrial Cancer released findings that showed oral contraceptives helped save 200,000 lives from endometrial cancer over a period of nine years.
The research itself was compiled from data sets of individuals involved in 36 epidemiological studies. Of these sets, 27,276 women had been diagnosed with cases of endometrial cancer, while 115,743 were healthy subjects, without a given diagnosis. From there, the relative risks of endometrial cancer were estimated using “logistic regression, stratified by study, age, parity, body-mass index, smoking, and use of menopausal hormone therapy,” according to the study’s Methods in Supplementary Material.
In the past, oral contraceptives have been known to be effective aids in cancer prevention. One earlier report found that every five-year span of taking birth control reduced the risk of endometrial cancer by an estimated 24 percent, even after women had stopped taking the pills for more than three decades. Findings from this particular Oxford study further supported such an idea—according to researchers, the longer women had used oral contraceptives, the greater the risk of them getting endometrial cancer had reduced.
What’s more? Even after women had stopped taking birth control pills for more than 30 years, they experienced a reduced risk in endometrial cancer.
For more in-depth information on this study, we recommend you refer to the paper (“Endometrial cancer and oral contraceptives: an individual participant meta-analysis of 27276 women with endometrial cancer from 36 epidemiological studies”) published by The Lancet in Oncology.